Those who wish to take up the Rule of Awen and follow the path of the Hermitage of the Heart must fulfill certain requirements. Acceptance, reception, ordination, and consecration in the GCC is limited to members of AODA, and depends in part on the fulfillment of the requirements of the AODA study program. It is not a replacement for AODA’s system of Druid training, but a supplement and an intensification of that training. Please note: The Gnostic Celtic Church: A Manual and Book of Liturgy is no longer the authoritative guide to the Gnostic Celtic Church. It has been replaced by The Gnostic Celtic Church Clergy Guide, which contains its relevant teachings but has been updated to include the Gnostic Celtic Church Monastery and the new GCC curriculums. The Gnostic Celtic Church Clergy Guide is sent in pdf form to all new Novitiates and in hard copy to all Deacons and above. Additional copies are available to AODA members only and can be requested at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Note About “Titles”
Throughout this website and GCC and GCCM literature, traditional titles for clergy are used: Novitiate, Deacon, Priest, Bishop, Monk, Preceptor, Abbot. Part of the discernment process clergy undertake involves deciding what title resonates with them for their religious path. For example, a person at the 3rd level of the service path, traditionally called a Priest, may discern that they would prefer to be called a Priestess or Priestx, or whatever other title their Awen dictates. It is not the title that defines GCC and GCCM clergy; it is the work and dedication to their individual spiritual paths and how that work is expressed that ultimately determines who they are as spiritual beings within the GCC/GCCM.
GCC Clergy Explained
Every AODA member accepted into the GCC clergy starts out as a Novitiate. The purpose of the Novitiate program is specifically to prepare clergy to become Deacons. Once a Deacon, clergy can choose to remain a Deacon or they can choose to work toward ordination as a Priest, the active, externally oriented service path of the GCC; or they can choose the monastic contemplative path of internal service as a Novice Monk. Clergy members are able, at any point, to change their path and, if so desired, can work through both the Priest and Monastic paths. However, each must be done separately, they cannot be done concurrently.
Currently, the GCC consists of the following clergy designations:
Novitiate: A time of learning about the GCC and about themselves as spiritual individuals. Not a terminal path, Novitiates must decide whether or not they wish to continue along the clergy path or leave it behind.
Deacon: A time to study GCC practices and how their own beliefs fit into the GCC. Deacons can remain Deacons, or decide to advance to Priesthood or Monkhood.
Priest: Clergy at this level have committed to the path of the GCC clergy and to service to the Earth, and/or service to others as well as a commitment to following their own Awen. Priests/Priestesses can remain at this level or work toward becoming Bishops.
Novice Monk: A period of learning about monasticism and the contemplative, internal life. Not a terminal path, Novice Monks must decide whether they wish to move forward within the monastery or remain as Deacons on the Priest/Priestess path.
Committed Monk: A period of learning about vows, including the vows they are willing to make in their service to the Divine and to the GCC. If permanent vows are not desired, this can be where they remain.
Bishop: Clergy who are consecrated as Bishops fully commit to embodying the work and practices of the GCC and to the Divine within their own lives and practices.
Consecrated Monk: Consecrated Monks fully commit to their chosen vows and to the GCC and the GCC monastic community, and embody the work and practices of the GCC Monastery within their own lives and practices.
The requirements for advancing along the GCC path are as follows:
Requirements for Novitiates
The order of Novitiate is an introductory stage for those who wish to be considered as members of the GCC clergy and is available to AODA members at any level of the curriculum. Every member who applies to the GCC starts out as a Novitiate. Members at the Apprentice level and higher will usually move into the diaconate quite quickly if appropriate.
Members of the AODA who desire acceptance as a novitiate may receive it upon fulfilling the following requirements:
- Performance of the Candidate Initiation;
- Submitting to the GCC preceptor a letter of intention requesting admission into the GCC Clergy, accompanied by a Spiritual Autobiography detailing their religious/spiritual history (history of their spiritual path; relationship to the Divine, however that is experienced; and current spiritual practices);
- Brief personal interview with GCC preceptor.
Requirements for Deacons
The order of deacon is the next stage for those who wish to proceed to the priesthood. It may also provide a framework for those who wish to work with some of the spiritual disciplines of the GCC, but do not wish to practice the Communion ceremony on a regular basis or to advance into the Priesthood.
Members of AODA who desire reception as a deacon may receive it upon fulfilling the following requirements:
- Initiation into the First Degree of AODA (completing the requirements for Druid Apprentice);
- Completion of the workbook My Deepest Me:A 30-Day Retreat to Nourish Your Inner Life by Janice Lynne Lundy and submitting a write-up. This workbook gives clergy an opportunity to deeply explore their own feelings about spirituality and their concept of the divine. While written as a 30 day exercise, Novitiates are encouraged to take more time with it, perhaps a week for each set of daily questions. This helps keep Novitiates focused throughout their time as an AODA Candidate and prepares them for the required write-up. At the end of the 30 day “journey” there are 8 additional questions to contemplate. The write-up consists of answers to these 8 questions, along with answers to 2 of the “reflection questions” which make up the last 14 pages of the workbook, and will be submitted before performing the required “vigil”.
- Becoming familiar with the Gnostic Celtic Church Clergy Guide (currently still in development).
- Completion of a process of reflection and conversation that explores, in detail, why the applicant wishes to become a Deacon in the GCC, and what goals they wish to pursue through this work.
- Performance of a vigil of at least six uninterrupted hours of prayer and contemplation, seeking insight and guidance for the path forward;
- Submitting to the GCC preceptor a detailed account of the vigil and its results, along with a letter of intent requesting reception as a Deacon;
- Reception as a Deacon can be received in person from a GCC Bishop, but it is usually conferred at a distance by means of a specific ritual formula in which a suitable token is blessed by a Bishop and returned to the candidate for reception.
Requirements for Priests and Novice Monks
The order of Priest is the working heart of the GCC. It requires the Priest to perform the GCC Communion Ceremony as a regular personal devotion.
While the primary commitment has historically been to personal spiritual practice and following the Rule of Awen, Priests may also, with additional discernment, guidance and further training completed outside the GCC if necessary, pursue a path of “service”. Examples of service include , engaging in work with a community of Druids, officiating at the celebration of rites of passage, prison or military ministry, providing spiritual guidance to other GCC clergy, assisting within the GCC or other spiritual work in service to others .
Another option for Deacons ready to further their training is a new, deeply contemplative Monastic path. This path runs parallel to the Priest path and is open to both Deacons who wish to pursue it instead of the priesthood as well as to those previously ordained as Priests or consecrated as Bishops.
Any member of AODA who desires to become a Priest or Novice Monk may receive it upon fulfilling the following requirements:
- Previous ordination as a deacon in the GCC;
- Priest: Initiation into the Second Degree of AODA (completing the requirements for Druid Companion); Novice Monks, while not required to be at the Companion level at this point, will eventually need to fulfill this requirement in order to move up to the monastic level of Committed Monk.
- Close study and brief contemplative write up of three books (third book differs depending on the chosen path). Clergy are not expected to agree with everything in these books, but are expected to read them with an open mind and be able to discuss what they do or do not agree with and/or like about the books. By being exposed to several perspectives, clergy are able to gain more comprehensive knowledge. The books are as follows:
- “Eyes Wide Open: Cultivating Discernment on the Spiritual Path,” by Mariana Caplan, PhD.;
- “Decision Making & Spiritual Discernment: The Sacred Art of Finding Your Way,” by Nancy L. Bieber;
- Book depends on chosen path:
- Priest: “The Many Paths of the Independent Sacramental Tradition,” by John Plummer;
- Novice Monk: “The Perennial Philosophy”, by Aldous Huxley
- Creation of a home altar and daily practice of morning prayer and evening lection;
- Regular and thorough practice of the AODA solitary Grove ritual and Sphere of Protection ritual;
- Devotional Practices:
- Priest: regular and thorough practice of the GCC Communion Ceremony.
- Novice: concentration on deepening meditation and prayer practices through increasing time in daily meditation.
- Ongoing process of mentoring and discernment, to assist the future Priest or Monk in developing a personal vocation and practice;
- Performance of a vigil of at least 12 uninterrupted hours of prayer and contemplation, seeking insight and guidance for the path toward ordination into the priestly order or reception as a Novice Monk.
- A brief essay detailing the vigil experience along with the chosen path (priest or monk) and reasons for choosing it. Priesthood candidates will include details of the type of service they plan to engage in as priests/priestesses and the training they will pursue to acquire the skills needed. The essay serves as application to the desired path.
Ordination as a Priest must be received in person from a GCC Bishop; it cannot be conferred by mail or at a distance at this time. However, no clergy member will be denied the ability to advance within the GCC simply because of a disability or physical distance. Committed Monks are not ordained; they are consecrated after taking permanent vows.
Requirements for Bishops
The order of Bishop comprises those participants in the GCC who pursue their vocation to the point of embodying the entire GCC and AODA tradition in their own lives. It is not a springboard from which to pursue some other religious direction. It is specific to those who have found their spiritual home in the GCC and AODA and wish to assist others in the work of the church and the order. Therefore, the ability to confer reception, ordination, and consecration into the holy orders of the GCC is reserved to Bishops. Any member of AODA who desires consecration as a Bishop may receive it upon fulfilling the following requirements:
- Initiation into the Third Degree of AODA (completing the requirements for Druid Adept);
- Previous ordination as a Priest in the GCC;
- Design and completion of an extensive course of personal study, building on the foundations of the study program assigned for priests in the GCC, which must be approved by the preceptor of the GCC in advance;
- Development of a continuing and intensive personal spiritual practice as an expression of priestly vocation, and the composition of a detailed written account of this practice;
- A further process of mentoring and discernment to help the future Bishop enrich their personal vocation and priestly practice;
- Performance of a vigil of at least 24 hours of prayer and contemplation, seeking insight and guidance for the path toward consecration as a Bishop.
- A final vote of approval for consecration by the Grand Grove by recommendation of the GCC Preceptor.
Consecration as a Bishop must be received in person from at least one, and preferably three, GCC Bishops; it cannot be conferred by mail or at a distance.